Located within Wellington, New Zealand’s green belt, the Wellington Zoo preserves more than 100 varieties of native and non-native species across a 32-acre zoological park and spearheads conservation and sustainability efforts for local endangered species and biospheres.

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The Wellington Zoo was the first zoological park in the country of New Zealand following the arrival of European colonists to the island. The zoo’s creation stemmed from the need for a facility to house a young lion cub named King Dick to the country’s Prime Minister Richard Seddon, presented to him as a gift by the Bostock and Wombwell Circus. In 1906, the zoo facility was opened to the public, and throughout the 20th century, saw a large number of expansions and additions to exhibits and animal populations. Notable animal additions throughout the years have included several Sumatran tigers brought to the zoo in the early 1990s, two Malaysian sun bears transplanted from the San Diego Zoo in 1992, and a trio of chimpanzees given to the zoo in the 1960s, all of which introduced permanent populations of the species to the zoo. Until the early 2000s, the zoo was operated by the Wellington City Council, but in 2003, the zoo was incorporated as a private charitable trust.

Permanent Collections and Exhibits

Today, the Wellington Zoo is operated as a private charitable trust nonprofit organization with chief funding support by the Wellington City Council, overseen by a six-member board of trustees. As the world’s first carboNZero-certified zoological park, the zoo has embarked on a variety of conservation and sustainability initiatives, including the incorporation of solar water heating, recycled timber, and rainwater recovery systems into its structures and terrain. The zoo is an accredited member organization of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as the regional Zoo and Aquarium Association for zoological and biological parks within the greater Australiasian area.

More than 100 species of native and non-native animals are showcased within a variety of habitats throughout the zoo, with interactive activities and programming designed to engage visitors with animals and ecosystems. Mammal species hosted at the zoo include carnivores native to the Australasian areas such as Sumatran tigers, servals, lions, dingoes, caracals, Asian small-clawed otters, and Tasmanian devils, as well as omnivores such as Malaysian sun bears, cotton-top tamarins and pygmy marmosets. Herbivores on display include giraffes, kunekunes, spider monkeys, Eastern grey kangaroos, Tammar wallabies, and African-crested porcupines. Aquatic and terrestrial bird species are showcased, including Cape Barren geese, kingfishers, ostriches, Guinea fowl, and sun conures. Aquatic reptile species include the Southern bell frog, the leopard tortoise, the axolotl, and the Australian water dragon, while terrestrial reptiles and amphibians featured include the island’s native tuatara, along with blue-tongued, shingle-backed, and Cunningham’s varieties of skinks. Native spider, fish, and insect species are also showcased.

In addition to animal habitats organized by geographic location or species type, the zoo also showcases a variety of special interactive exhibit areas, including the The Nest: Te Kohanga, which serves as the park’s main veterinary facility and offers visitors a chance to view animal care and surgery directly from several open viewing galleries. Rescued native wildlife species are also showcased within the facility, and veterinary staff are on hand at all times to answer questions and elaborate on medical procedures and care practices. A wide variety of animal talks and demonstrations are presented throughout the park daily for visitors, including cheetah, lion, and giraffe close encounters and sun bear, red panda, and chimpanzee talks. Visitors may also meet-and-greet daily with the zoo’s unofficial mascot, a one-legged kiwi named Tahi. For young visitors, a Living Room facility offers daily educational programming, and a number of interactive nature-themed playgrounds are provided throughout exhibit areas for families. A zoo gift store also offers a variety of sustainability-focused gifts, children’s toys, and multimedia educational materials.

Ongoing Programs and Education

In addition to standard visitor admission, a variety of tour programming is offered for small groups and organizations, including Learning Experience Outside the Classroom guided tours for primary, secondary, and tertiary student groups. Tours for low-income school districts are provided as part of the Warehouse Wellington Zoofari program, and distance learning opportunities are also offered as part of the Bush Builders environmental literacy program. Zoo sleepovers, school holiday programs, and a variety of public special events are also offered for young visitors. A number of conservation initiatives are operated by the zoo in conjunction with other regional Australasian environmental organizations, including local and international breeding programs. The zoo’s Kereru Discovery Project works with nearby Wellington attraction Zealandia to protect the island’s native wood pigeon species, and the Places for Penguins program strives to safeguard blue penguin coastal nesting areas.

200 Daniell St, Newtown, Wellington 6021, New Zealand, Phone: +64-43-81-67-55

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